Last month, Radio Disney went on a 26-stop tour of schools, science centers and fairs across Ohio with the goal of educating kids about oil and gas drilling and transportation.
But parents in Ohio and across the country weren’t standing for that — not once they found out the tour was funded entirely by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which gets its funding from the oil and gas industry.
“The sole intent of the collaboration between Radio Disney and the nonprofit Rocking in Ohio educational initiative was to foster kids’ interest in science and technology,” a Radio Disney spokesperson said in an email to The Huffington Post. “Having been inadvertently drawn into a debate that has no connection with this goal, Radio Disney has decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program.”
Representatives from Radio Disney and OOGEEP did not respond on time for publication.
The program, “Rocking In Ohio,” was an interactive presentation by Radio Disney hosts that engaged children in activities such as creating pipelines out of drinking straws to learn how oil and gas is transported. Its ties to the oil and gas industry sparked outrage from many groups, including the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, which sent a letter to Radio Disney on Thursday asking them to end its partnership with the oil and gas industry and stop the Rocking in Ohio program. The letter called the program an “attempt to fool and brain wash Ohio children and families” and was signed by 23 Ohio-based organizations.
Other groups found the fact that Radio Disney was taking an oil-industry backed educational program into schools particularly worrisome.
“It’s troubling in the first place that they’re going into elementary schools, and it’s even more troubling that Disney is getting involved,” Alison Auciello, an organizer with Food and Water Watch in Ohio, told Al Jazeera America. “They’re not giving a balanced education on (oil and gas). Public schools should also be inviting anti-fracking people into schools. That doesn’t seem to be happening at all.”
Lisa Hoyos, co-founder and director of Climate Parents, which organized the CREDO Action petition, told ThinkProgress that though she was happy with the outcome, the fight to ensure that Radio Disney doesn’t get involved with other programs like Rocking in Ohio in the future wasn’t over.
“Disney took a first really important step,” Hoyos said. “However, Disney has broad and deep access to public school kids all over the U.S…. We believe that a family company like Disney should promote kid safe, climate safe energy exclusively.”